Health

Fruit Juice Nigeria - the truthI have wanted to do this post for quite a while now. I think it is quite important that we begin to question the things that we have locally available.

Loads of people opt for “Fruit Juice” at parties and at restaurants and even at home, thinking that they are getting something very close to freshly squeezed juice and nothing else. That is really not the case…at all.

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Today is Healthy Monday! Yay!

Today, let’s speak on a subject that affects you and I – labelling!

My daughter was given a pack of biscuits which I found (intact) in the car. It was one of these really cheap biscuits that you can purchase for about NGN10. Even though I knew not to expect much, I took a look at the packaging to read the ingredients list. Before I could do that though, this caught my eye:

Biscuit Front

1 Pack = 1 glass of milk*

I was intrigued! Really? I could eat this and literally not need to drink milk? These had to be healthy biscuits!! But then, notice the asterisk? Not a lot of people usually do. I turned the pack around to find what it meant:

*One pack of 33g Milk Biscuits has Calcium equal to 175ml glass of milk

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Today is Healthy Monday!! Let’s stop talking about food for a minute and talk instead about something that will help you exercise right.

A few years ago, while reading Gym instructor and personal trainer,  Adura’s blog, I came across a post that mentioned the importance of getting a gait analysis done when buying new running shoes. I had never gotten that done before but was immediately interested.

It is based on the fact that our foot arch or lack of it (in the case of those that have flat feet) determine the way our feet are aligned.

Arch Type

If you know your arc type, this is a pretty cool way of figuring out your foot alignment. If you don’t look at the bottom of the post for a link that will help you determine what your arch type is.

I wasn’t able to find a place that could conduct the test in Nigeria so I wound up getting it done in a shop that sells running equipment in the UK. I went with my cousin, Chinelo, and they soon had us running barefoot on a treadmill to see whether we overpronate, underpronate or have a normal gait while running. After they determined which category I fell into, they tested me running with shoes and we settled on one that gave me the most support.

pronation316x278 (1)

This shows the running gait of people that fall under the different categories.

Did it make a difference?…..Yep!! So much so that I haven’t since bought running shoes without getting a fit test or gait analysis done.

In case you are wondering about the results: I discovered that I overpronate (no surprise there as I have flat feet), and wound up buying a pair of ASICS with proper structural support. I absolutely love ASICS. So very comfortable, I could live in them.

Why is a Gait Analysis so important?

  • The right shoes can prevent injury while running. As a matter of fact, if you have a recurring injury, it may be down to your shoes not providing the right support.
  • Improves form and body alignment for better performance while running.
  • Even if you are not a runner, this is helpful in determining the sort of every day shoes you should be buying for every day shoes.

My last pair of running shoes came from New Balance. I went to a New Balance store and they conducted a professional fit analysis to get me the right shoes. No running involved. I simply stepped on an iSTEP scanner which mapped my feet and advised the fit specialist which shoes I would need for the right support.

Here is a picture of my scan, the bits in red are the places where I most apply pressure when standing.  This is what flat feet look like.

Natural Nigerian Running Shoes

Do you see me in the picture, taking the picture? Apparently I always shove my sunglasses on my head when I am indoors.

I bought a pair of shoes with built-in support. They also sold me orthotics which I no longer wear (they were too uncomfortable).

Cool Links Bonus:

I am constantly reading up on Human Health and the effects of any chosen lifestyle. A while ago, I came across this documentary which had my jaw dropping and made such an impact that I am not sure I will ever look at Food the same way again.

I think the hugest thing that you can take away from this documentary is the fact that the International Food Industries (almost all of which originate in North America) have been actively, aggressively, seeking and entering emerging economies where they can sell their “nutritionless” food products so that they can stay profitable. They are exporting obesity, quite diligently, to us and rather than wait to learn for ourselves, we can learn from what is happening in all the other countries they have penetrated.

They do not set up office here (going through the stress of operating in Nigeria) because they love you or even care about what happens to you after you get hooked on their snacks and food products – they do so to make sure that their companies stay profitable. And guess where the bulk of that money they make here goes. Hint: Not even into growing your own economy or developing the health sector which they make you need.

Processed food in Nigeria

These are some of the snacks that Nestle manufactures. How many of these have you ever eaten? If you have had at least 80% of these, that is the power of marketing. Don’t underestimate it.

I know a lot of our folks watch/hear these things with a feeling of disconnection….they think that Nigeria is so far away from the clutches of the International Food Industries that they cannot be affected.

That is not true. Even in Oke-Arin market in Lagos Island, you can find food products from companies like Kraft, Danone, Heinz e.t.c. Note that I did not call them food. That is because, well they are not. Let us not even begin to get into the brands we now get at places like Shoprite

We also know that certain companies have had a big presence here for years: e.g. Nestle, Coca Cola, Pepsi and all those Indian-owned companies around Oshodi that make the N10 snacks and biscuits sold by Mallams and in traffic. Let us not even get into the nightmare that is flavored milk, sold everywhere. Even our older industries are complicit, churning out food products like Gala which are very low in nutritional value but are sold “to satisfy hunger”.

It gets even worse, Nigeria is directly mentioned in this documentary. Not only as an emerging economy but as an emerging economy that is targeted by the International Food Industries and as such a place that is experiencing an increasing Obesity problem. Obesity is high in EVERY country that these companies are present in. There is a direct relationship. The documentary does not claim that there was no obesity before they came but there is an accelerated spike in the number of obese people.

Nigeria unhealthy food

In Africa, Nigeria and South Africa have been targeted because of their economies. You will recognize some of these companies because they either have offices in Nigeria or their products are in our markets and supermarkets.

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Healthy Salad Dressing Nigeria 2

I love salads of all kinds. I can eat veggies in pretty much any permutation.

  • Cabbage + Tomatoes + Cucumber
  • Carrots + Green Pepper + Cucumber + Tomatoes
  • Lettuce + Carrots + Cabbage + Green Pepper + Tomatoes
  • Carrots + Spinach + Avocado + Tomatoes

…you get the general idea.

I usually throw in some grilled chicken or some boiled eggs to make it a whole meal. Sometimes, I toss in some fruit like apples and eat it like that, sans dressing.

The one thing that wrecks a salad and transports it from a healthy meal to a non-healthy one is the salad dressing that is used.

Today, I am sharing an absolute favorite salad dressing. One that I have made over and over again.

Ingredients

  • Anchovies                                                                 1 Tin
  • Juice of two ripe limes
  • Honey                                                                        To Taste
  • Whole grain Mustard Seeds                                Teaspoon

You can substitute the limes with half a lemon if you prefer. I like limes because they are cheap and cheerful.

Healthy Salad Dressing Nigeria

To prepare

Open the can. That’s the hard work done and now it gets really easy, lol. Break up the anchovies to smaller pieces. The fish comes with some oil and we use that as well. Combine with the lime juice and mustard seeds. Add some honey to taste. Voila it is ready! Drizzle over your salad.

I like this particular dressing because it balances the sweet, sour and salty. At the last minute, I added some black pepper. There are no hard and fast rules. Just anything that floats your boat.

Let me know if you like it!

For more inspiration on healthy salad dressings, here’s a handy picture:

Salad Dressing Healthy home made

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Pineapple-FruitSource

Some of the most powerful healing substances on this planet are masquerading as foods.  Pineapples are a powerful example of this food-medicine principle.  And this is not by happenstance.  There exists an ancient mutual dependence between man and fruits.   Fruits are by design a perfect food, intended to entice us to eat them in order to help disseminate their seeds.   This process is quite profound.

Fruits entice us because they are often sweet and have attractive colors and aromas.  They also empower us to disseminate their seeds far and wide.  That is, fruiting plants have a vested interest in optimizing the health of animals that eat their fruit.  After all, a sickly animal cannot carry seed very far.  Accordingly, fruits have evolved an array of substances tailored to fight infection and disease in animals.  Let us explore this in a bit more detail.

The evolutionary meaning of vitamin C

Pineapples are one of the most concentrated sources of food vitamin C on the planet.  Unlike most animals, human beings are unable to produce vitamin C from glucose.  Most animals do not need vitamin C from their food.  But humans are wholly dependent on dietary sources.  This fact gives tremendous insight into the evolutionary history of man.

Our genetic infrastructure needs a continual resupply of vitamin C from fruits and vegetables.  Without which, disease is inevitable.

Vitamin C is the body’s primary water soluble antioxidant, defending the body against free radicals that attack and damage cells.  Free radicals are an inevitable fact of life.  Our body produces these highly reactive toxins during energy generation. We are also exposed to them from processed foods (e.g. soft drinks) and environmental chemical exposures (e.g. generator exhaust).  An excess of free radicals in the body leads to a condition known as oxidative stress.  Oxidative stress has a hand in almost all chronic disease processes that afflict man; from cancer to heart disease to arthritis and so on.

Vitamin C is also critical for immune function; it is an essential nutrient in dealing with infectious challenges ranging from malaria to yeast infections to flu.

That humans gave up the capability to produce such a profoundly health promoting substance demonstrates how intimately and inextricably linked we are to fruits like pineapple.  But please note that this is not a prescription to buy synthetic vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which lacks the essential co-factors that together form vitamin C complex.  Multivitamins and enriched processed foods (e.g. enriched white flour) are a scam of monumental proportions.

Enter bromelain, a proven cancer killer

The emergence of cancer cells is in fact a normal part of animal physiology.  Our bodies are composed of trillions of cells, of which billions are replicating at any given time.  With so much replication going on all the time, abnormalities are bound to occur.  In fact, all of us have carried numerous cancer cells at various times.  In healthy persons, these abnormal cells are rapidly destroyed by the immune system.

Fruits have also evolved an integral role in cancer prevention.  After all, they have a huge stake in the welfare of their precious seed carriers.  Pineapples really do go the extra mile for us.  In the fibrous core of pineapples, is a complex blend of enzymes collectively referred to as bromelain.  Bromelain has been found to be more potent than the chemotoxic agent 5-fluorouracil in killing cancer cells.  Imagine that, pineapples kill cancer cells more effectively than chemotherapy.  The only reason such studies remain in the dark is because they threaten the profitability of the medical establishment.

References: Roxana Báez, Miriam T Lopes, Carlos E Salas, Martha Hernández. “In vivo antitumoral activity of stem pineapple (Ananas comosus) bromelain”. Planta Medica. 2007. Web

Ezenwa Onwugbenu is a nutritional healer and public speaker on natural health matters. You can find out more about him and his passion for natural health and living on Creative Juices.

bigstock_Smiley_ball_sending_message_ab_25677302

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Detoxification is the process of eliminating toxins from the body.  It is an important process as toxic exposures are an inescapable fact of life.  In just being alive, our bodies generate a steady stream of wastes and harmful substances.  For instance, life needs energy to function.  But energy generation in most life forms creates toxic byproducts.

As if that was not enough, we are exposed to several environmental toxins.  These exposures range from harmful petrochemicals in body lotions to noxious fumes from diesel trucks.

Thankfully, our bodies are more than equipped to face this toxic barrage.  We possess robust systems to identify, neutralize, and eliminate toxins.  In fact, detoxification is as fundamental to life and health as breathing.  Even as we must breath every second of every day to remain alive.  The cells in our bodies must continuously clear out toxins.

The liver is the master controller of detoxification processes.  It receives toxins dumped into circulation by cells throughout the body.  The liver neutralizes these compounds and sends them to where they will be eliminated.  There are various channels of elimination, such as skin, lungs, colon, and urinary tract.

Managing this toxic burden is important for good health.  However, our detoxification systems can be overwhelmed.  The stream of toxins from processed foods, air pollution, chronic stress, and so on can simply overrun the liver. This leads to the accumulation of toxic wastes in the body.

This is called toxicosis and leads to organ damage.   It is this organ damage and associated loss of organ function that is disease.  For example, damage to arteries leads to hypertension.  Damage to the liver leads to type 2 diabetes.  Damage to joints leads to arthritis. And so on.

Detoxification is something that the body does.  That is to say, a particular herb or tonic does not detoxify of itself.  The body simply uses the nutrients in it to achieve detoxification.  Indeed, detoxification refers to networks of protein-based machines in certain cells.  These molecular machines assemble into complex structures that search out and neutralize toxins.  An example is the cytochrome p450 family of enzymes.

However, these machines need to associate with certain nutrients to function.  They need to physically bind vitamins, minerals, and other substances to become activated.  This is where processed foods become problematic.  They are deficient in these critical raw materials.  Detoxification simply cannot proceed without magnesium, B vitamins, iron, vitamin C, and many others.

Processed foods inhibit detoxification.  The required machinery is there, but cannot be activated due to certain nutrient deficiencies.  It is a bit like owning a Ferrari and not knowing how to drive.  This represents a lost opportunity for the body to heal and repair itself.  And it allows organ damage to gradually accumulate.  This is the long march of chronic disease.

NN says: A good example of a cheap, locally available natural detoxifier is Hibiscus Calyx a.k.a Zobo. Read more about it here.

Ezenwa Onwugbenu is a nutritional healer and public speaker on natural health matters. You can find out more about him and his passion for natural health and living on Creative Juices.

Hibiscus promotes detoxification

Natural Nigerian Hibiscus Zobo

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Hibiscus calyx, which is commonly known in Nigeria as Zobo, is a rich source of nutrients that activate detoxification.  It literally contains thousands of health-promoting substances.  Of particular interest is a class of compounds called anthocyanins.  These compounds give hibiscus tea its characteristic red hue. Anthocyanins not only activate detoxification enzymes, but signal to cells to assemble more such machines.

Yes, hibiscus speaks to the body.  Nutrients are much more than just calories.  They carry information and instructions.  They initiate and inhibit numerous processes in the body.  The nutrients in Zobo initiate cleansing and regenerative processes.  Whereas the anti-nutrients in say soft drinks, initiate chronic inflammation and oxidative damage.

Hibiscus tea helps resolve metabolic syndrome 

Not surprisingly, hibiscus tea has been found to improve markers of metabolic syndrome.  What is metabolic syndrome?  It is a physiological state marked by the break down of insulin signaling.  This results in abnormally high levels of insulin that create disorder in the body.  Blood sugar and cholesterol levels spike.  Blood vessels harden and stiffen.  Chronic infections run wild as the immune system is subdued.  The liver becomes clogged with fat and cholesterol.  The brain fills up with non-functional, junk protein fibers.  And so on.

Metabolic syndrome is also a cluster of interrelated diseases.  That is, it is the root cause of a family of chronic diseases.  Many chronic diseases appear as if they have little in common.  What does type 2 diabetes have to do with heart disease?  Or kidney stones with cataracts?  Well, they have everything in common.  They are merely manifestations of an underlying disease process.  For example, hypertension, liver disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, glaucoma, dementia, and kidney disease are all impacted by defective insulin signaling (metabolic syndrome).

One way in which hibiscus helps resolve metabolic syndrome is that it promotes the excretion of uric acid.  Metabolic syndrome is associated with excess uric acid in the body.  As the body gradually detoxifies this and other metabolic wastes, the defect in insulin signaling also resolves.  And by so doing, hibiscus calyx helps to resolve the biggest killer of the modern age.

How to prepare hibiscus tea

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 Next week: We get an in-depth look at detoxification.

References: 
  1. C M Gurrola-Díaz, P M García-López, S Sánchez-Enríquez, R Troyo-Sanromán, I Andrade-González, J F Gómez-Leyva. “Effects of Hibiscus sabdariffa extract powder and preventive treatment (diet) on the lipid profiles of patients with metabolic syndrome”. Phytomedicine. 2010. Web
  2. H Mozaffari-Khosravi, B-A Jalali-Khanabadi, M Afkhami-Ardekani, F Fatehi, M Noori-Shadkam. “The effects of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on hypertension in patients with type II diabetes”. Journal of Human Hypertension. 2009. Web

Ezenwa Onwugbenu is a nutritional healer and public speaker on natural health matters. You can find out more about him and his passion for natural health and living on Creative Juices.

Four years ago, I moved job locations and into a new job role. My new position meant spending lots of time outdoors in the hot blazing sun. Not surprisingly, I have gotten progressively darker over time.

I did not realize how bad it was until I resumed wearing make-up this year (after a 5 year hiatus) and had to get powder/foundation that matched my skin color. In the past, I only wore a sheer pressed powder but this year I wanted to get creme foundation. I’ve done a comparison below.

Before and After

I know, right? Unbelievable.

Evidence number 2 of how much my complexion has changed is my older sister.

When we were kids, I was much lighter-complexioned than she was. She caught up a little when we were growing older but right now is shades lighter than I am. And no, folks, she uses no “lightening aids” – creams or pills. She does have a sedentary job that keeps her indoors plus she is so introverted these days that she spends most of her time indoors even when she is on vacation. But c’mmon! Shades lighter? I can’t even use her foundation because I am browner than she is.

Apart from being driven by vanity, I was also alarmed for my skin health. We all know that too much sun exposure is bad and may even lead to other complications, cancer included. Obviously I had had a lot of sun exposure.

So what’s a girl to do?

Well, I have started taking my sun protection very seriously. Where possible, I wear a hat and sunglasses when I go out in the sun. My floppy hat is a bargain $8 number from Walmart which I can fold and carry wherever I go. I love that I can fold it as I typically do not enter buildings wearing my hat or sunglasses. It is nice to know that I can fold the hat away and not worry about it getting out of shape.

The sunglasses not only add to my sun protection for my skin, but for my eyes as well – they keep me from squinting under the intensely bright sunshine. Suffering from myopia since childhood, I have a fair bit of lines around my eyes – a testament to all the squinting I did when I would inevitably misplace my glasses.

IMG_1202

See how well shaded the top of my face is? My head is turned up towards the light which is why the lower part of my face isn’t shaded. Anyhoo, this gives a fair bit of insight into how a simple hat can provide protection.

It is surprising that we are not a hat wearing country – I cannot imagine why – given the amount of sunshine we get here – so I have gotten a lot of questions (and flack) about wearing a hat. Ranging from  “Are you on going to the Caribbean?” To plain ol’ “Why are you wearing a hat?” I expected the questions and even the derisive comments I have been getting. I had Natural hair in this country before it was cool. I know that I can manage wearing a hat even though it is not popular. Another picture of me wearing my hat and shades here.

Concerned with the state of my skin, I decide that I had to up my topical aids. So, two weeks ago I also made myself a super moisturizing facial cream that is suitable for mature skin (meadaowfoam seed oil, rose hydrosol, rose essential oil e.t.c) and added Alpha Hydroxy Acids (lactic Acid, Citric Acid e.t.c) to a batch. I use the batch with A.H.A only at night.

Although I use it at night, the AHAs increase sun sensitivity which may lead to a sun burn so it is a happy coincidence that I am using it my hat and glasses. Naturally, I also use a full spectrum UVA and UVB protection Sunscreen.

I am not expecting any miracles nor am I going to lighten my skin…naturally or otherwise. This took years to happen so I know that I am going to have to give at least twice that time for full recovery, The important thing is that I have started today.

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